INDIANAPOLIS -- Wide receiver E.G. Green's broken leg, a 68-yard run by Tennessee's Eddie George and two officials' calls ended the Super Bowl hopes of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Green, making his first start in five games, fractured his right leg making a spectacular diving catch for a 33-yard gain to the Tennessee 22 early in the second quarter. He was taken off the field on a cart.
|The injury to E.G. Green broke the Colts' momentum in the second quarter.|
"E.G. got his first start in some time," said Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, who avoided being sacked while facing
consistent pressure from the Titans defense. "He had a good week in practice, and we center a lot of things around E.G. offensively.
That was a big play, and the fact that E.G. got hurt sort of changed the momentum. He just made a big catch.
"When that happens, you want to jog down and huddle up. ... We had to stand around as he got taken care of."
The Colts got no closer to the goal on that drive and had to settle for one of three field goals kicked by Mike Vanderjagt in a
19-16 loss to Tennessee in the AFC playoffs.
"I definitely missed E.G. in the second half. He's sort of a security blanket to me," Manning said.
Coach Jim Mora refused to blame the injury for the loss.
"The fact that he got hurt was a blow because he was a starter," Mora said. "Our offense didn't do as much today. We got outplayed by a better football team."
Manning completed 19 of 43 passes for 227 yards, a sharp decline from his regular-season performance that earned him a starting job in the Pro Bowl.
"I don't think it was anything that confused me, but they did a good job," said Manning, who scrambled 15 yards for the only Indianapolis touchdown. "They mixed it up well, blitzing some, playing some zone. The defensive line was good."
Two calls by the officials were costly to Indianapolis, which finished 13-4 after being picked in preseason forecasts to finish at the bottom of the AFC East.
One came with eight seconds left in the first half and Indianapolis at the Tennessee 16.
Everyone expected Manning to spike the ball to kill the clock. Instead, he rolled out to attempt a pass, but referee Johnny Grier had blown his whistle in anticipation of the spike.
"We did it a little too well and got everybody faked out," Manning said. "Johnny Grier admitted that he made a mistake. There's not a lot you can do about it."
Another big call came in the third quarter on a fourth-and-one play at the Tennessee 45 when offensive lineman Adam Meadows was called for a false start after reporting as an eligible receiver.
"That was kind of a play we have. We were trying to draw them offside," Manning said. "Adam is an eligible receiver, and he gets off the ball as a tight end. They called us for trying to draw them offsides. ... It would have been nice to have kept that drive alive."
"I was like a tight end, and I can go into motion, run a reverse or anything else in that situation," Meadows said. "One of the
officials said they missed it, but the call stood."
George's TD run put his team ahead to stay, and he finished with 162 yards on 26 carries.
"We were in a blitz. We tipped it a little early, and he just popped it. They called the right play at the right time," Mora said.
"That run and his short ones just killed us. He kept picking up two, three and four yards, getting them into third and short and
then we had often had trouble stopping them," defensive end Mark
Thomas said. "I thought I should have had him on that long run. I'll have to see the film to see what happened."